Thursday, 30 April 2015 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. Pius V, Pope (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we hear a brief summary of the history of salvation and of the people of God, Israel, in the first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, where St. Paul preached and testified for the faith in front of his fellow Jews in a synagogue. He told them about how God led His people out of Egypt, and gave them leaders to guide them, from the Judges to the kings, and on David, the faithful servant and king which God had chosen to rule over His people.

And it was told of the fulfillment of God’s promise of salvation of His people, through the promise which God had made to David, that His descendant would rule forever on his throne. And indeed, everything was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, including God’s promise to mankind, that salvation would come to them. Jesus broke free mankind from the chains of their slavery to sin and liberated them, just as the people of Israel once had been freed from their slavery to the Pharaoh and the Egyptians.

This freedom however, is not easy to maintain, as history had once proven. The people of Israel during their sojourn in the desert, were sorely tempted and many of them repeatedly gave in to their desires. As a result, they complained against God, rebelled against Him by saying how good their lives were back in Egypt as compared to what they had then in the desert, even though God fed them with manna and birds, and made them drink sweet and clear water in the middle of the desert.

Is this not the same with our own experience? We also have often done the same in our own respective lives. If we reflect on it, we should realise that there are some or many moments in our lives where we also disobeyed the Lord to pursue our own desires. We have this tendency to be tempted by the many things that Satan and the world offers us, and if we accept them as such, then we are no different than the people of Israel of old.

In the Gospel today, Jesus spoke about how a servant is not greater than his or her master, and therefore, as this is the case, all of us as the servants of God should not presume things and do things that betray our Lord and show that disobedience to the Lord, for if we truly belong to the Lord, then we ought to do things as the Master had taught us. If we do not, then we are liars and hypocrites, and we do not belong to Him, and thus we have no part in His inheritance.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have for an example, a saint, whose holy life had been an inspiration for many throughout the ages. This holy man, who happened to be the successor of St. Peter the Apostle as the Pope and Bishop of Rome, and therefore as the Vicar of Christ and leader of the entire Universal Church of God had a very important role to play in the development of the faith of many whom he had touched and inspired.

Pope St. Pius V lived at a time of great uncertainty, of many dangers and threats to the people of God and to the Church. He led the Church through a very turbulent time of dangers both outside and inside the Church. At that time, the threat of the mighty Ottoman Empire was at its zenith, and many feared the eventual conquest of Christendom by the forces of the heathens. In addition, the effects of the Protestant ‘reformation’ still caused great divisions in the body of the faithful, wars and conflicts.

Pope St. Pius V played a pivotal role in all of this, by truly committing himself to the role which he had devoted himself to, as the Leader of all God’s faithful, by assembling the combined forces of Christendom and the forces of the faithful that eventually led to a major and crushing victory against the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Lepanto. As such, the external threat against the faithful and the Church gradually diminished afterwards.

And with regards to combatting dissent and opposition in the Church and beyond, Pope St. Pius V successfully completed the long delayed Council of Trent, which resolved many of the outstanding issues in the Church and emphasized on the maintenance of the true faith and all of its teachings, as preserved by the Church since the time of the Apostles, to counter all the harmful effects of the so-called ‘reformation’.

Pope St. Pius V therefore led the Church in the vigorous effort of Counter-‘reformation’ to combat the rampant heresies among the people, and as a result, countless thousands and millions of souls returned to the true faith. Such was indeed the example of how all Christians should live their lives, that is to be truly devoted and faithful to all the ways of the Lord.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we all able to be true disciples of the Lord, and devote ourselves completely to Him? Are we able to commit ourselves to the way of truth and be true disciples of our Lord? It is the opportunity which we have today that we should not waste. May Almighty God therefore guide us on our path and help us so that in all of our actions, we may always be faithful to the Lord, and as a result, be found worthy to receive the inheritance which He had promised to all of us. God bless us all. Amen.

Thursday, 30 April 2015 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. Pius V, Pope (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 13 : 16-20

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly, I say to you, the servant is not greater than his master, nor is the messenger greater than he who sent him. Understand this, and blessed are you, if you put it into practice.”

“I am not speaking of you all, because I know the ones I have chosen, and the Scripture has to be fulfilled that says : ‘The one who shared My table has risen against Me.’ I tell you this now before it happens, so that when it does happen, you may know that I am He.”

“Truly, I say to you, whoever welcomes the one I send, welcomes Me; and whoever welcomes Me, welcomes the One who sent Me.”

Thursday, 30 April 2015 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. Pius V, Pope (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 88 : 2-3, 21-22, 25 and 27

I will sing forever, o Lord, of Your love and proclaim Your faithfulness from age to age. I will declare how steadfast is Your love, how firm Your faithfulness.

I have found David My servant, and with My holy oil I have anointed him. My hand will be ever with him and My arm will sustain him.

My faithfulness and love will be with him, and by My help he will be strong. He will call on Me, ‘You are my Father, my God, my Rock, my Saviour.’

Thursday, 30 April 2015 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of Pope St. Pius V, Pope (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 13 : 13-25

From Paphos, Paul and his companions set sail and came to Perga in Pamphylia. There John left them and returned to Jerusalem while they went on from Perga and came to Antioch in Pisidia. On the Sabbath day they entered the synagogue and sat down.

After the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the officials of the synagogue sent this message to them, “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the assembly, please speak up.”

So Paul arose, motioned to them for silence and began, “Fellow Israelites and also all you who fear God, listen. The God of our people Israel chose our ancestors, and after He had made them increase during their stay in Egypt, He led them out by powerful deeds.”

“For forty years He fed them in the desert, and after He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He gave them their land as an inheritance. All this took four hundred and fifty years. After that, He gave them Judges until Samuel the prophet. Then they asked for a king and God gave them Saul, son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, and he was king for forty years. After that time, God removed him and raised up David as king, to whom He bore witness saying : ‘I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all I want him to do.'”

“It is from the descendants of David that God has now raised up the promised Saviour of Israel, Jesus. Before He appeared, John proclaimed a baptism of repentance for all the people of Israel. As John was ending his life’s work, he said : ‘I am not what you think I am, for after me another One is coming whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.'”

Wednesday, 29 April 2015 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard how in the first reading, God chose St. Paul and St. Barnabas to be the servants of His will in delivering the message of the Good News to many peoples of different origins, which  brought about a solid foundation of the Church of God. The disciples prayed over them and laid their hands over them, which is the beginning of the rites of what we know now as the ordination of priests. They then served the people of God and preaching to them the words of truth, and to obey the Lord their God and follow Him in all their ways of life.

With this, we see how the theme of obedience to the Lord and His will as the requirement for our salvation. If we, the people of God, obey His will and walk in His ways, then we shall be secure, and our inheritance will be great. Our reward is great in the Lord who sees all those who obey Him and He will bless them. He blesses those who obey Him and to those who do not obey Him, He still gave them the opportunity to turn from their mistakes and repent.

As it has been shown in the Gospel today, that God came into this world in order to save it and not to condemn it. And those who listen to the Lord and follow Him, have the new life in them, life that is blessed by God. Those who refuse to listen and walk against the will of God, will be condemned not by God, but by the very action which they had taken against God.

This is to remind all of us that our faith cannot be one that is passive or artificial. Our faith must be based on real action and must show that we are truly devoted to the Lord and his teachings, or otherwise, we would be considered as liars and no one would believe in us. If we want to inspire others and make them to believe in the Lord as we do, then we better show it through our own actions.

There is no meaning to our faith, if we do not practice it in our own lives and if we do not mean what we believe in or say. Our salvation comes not just because we believe in God, but also because we act in the same way as our belief, and we make full use of that faith for the good benefit of ourselves, and also for all the others around us. Remember, the parable of the fig tree? The tree that bears fruit shall be kept and maintained well, but the ones that do not bear fruit are cut off and destroyed in fire.

Thus, it is the same with all of us. If we do not do anything to show our faith is truly genuine, then we too would have no part in the inheritance promised to us by the Lord. Today, we celebrate the feast day of a great saint of the Church, whose examples hopefully could inspire all of us to follow her in deeds and actions. She is St. Catherine of Siena, the well known saint, whose devotion remain widespread even unto this day. Who was she and what has she done to merit such great respect?

St. Catherine of Siena was born in the high Middle Ages Italy, where she was born of a parent with many children, who had wanted her to pursue the life normally expected of her at that time, that was to marry a husband and then start a family on her own. But since her youth, she had known that God had a greater and nobler plan for her, that is for her to devote her entire life to the cause of the Lord.

She did not give up despite all the oppositions, and through her fervent faith and devotion, and ceaseless prayers to God as well as real works of faith in charity and love, she managed to overcome the opposition and persuaded her parents to let her go to the hands of the Lord. And by her complete dedication to the Lord, she had brought much blessings and goodness to the people of God.

Through her devotions and works, St. Catherine of Siena helped to rejuvenate the faith in many people throughout the land that had been sagging and weakening. St. Catherine of Siena wrote many testimonies and writings which are still influencing many of the faithful even unto this very day. She helped to establish a stronger Church that truly practiced the messages it preached, and because of that many souls were brought closer to redemption and salvation in God.

Therefore, the examples of St. Catherine of Siena showed us that all of us as the members of God’s Church have much to do in this world. We still have plenty of things which all of us should conscientiously do, in order to bring more and more people to God’s light and salvation. Just like St. Paul and St. Barnabas, who had been called and chosen to minister to the people of God at that time, we too have been called to bring God’s light to the nations through our own actions and deeds.

May Almighty God guide us and bless us in our works, so that in all the things that we so, we may bring greater glory to God, and bring more souls closer to salvation. God bless us all, now and forever. Amen.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 12 : 44-50

At that time, Jesus said to the people, and even cried out, “Whoever believes in Me, believes not in Me, but in Him who sent Me. And whoever sees Me, sees Him who sent Me. I have come into the world as Light, so that whoever believes in Me may not remain in darkness.”

“If anyone hears My words and does not keep them, I am not the One to condemn him; for I have come, not to condemn the world, but to save the world. The one who rejects Me, and does not receive My word, already has a judge : the very word I have spoken will condemn him on the last day.”

“For I have not spoken on My own authority; the Father, who sent Me, has instructed Me in what to say and how to speak. I know that His commandment is eternal life, and that is why the message I give, I give as the Father instructed Me.”

Wednesday, 29 April 2015 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 66 : 2-3, 5, 6 and 8

May God be gracious and bless us, may He let His face shine upon us, that Your way be known on earth and Your salvation among the nations.

May the countries be glad and sing for joy, for You rule the peoples with justice and guide the nations of the world.

May the peoples praise You, o God, may all the peoples praise You! May God bless us and be revered, to the very ends of the earth.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor of the Church (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 12 : 24 – Acts 13 : 5

Meanwhile the word of God was increasing and spreading. Barnabas and Saul carried out their mission and then came back to Jerusalem, taking with them John also called Mark.

There were at Antioch – in the Church which was there – prophets and teachers : Barnabas, Symeon known as Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod, and Saul. On one occasion while they were celebrating the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said to them, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul to do the work for which I have called them.”

So, after fasting and praying, they laid their hands on them and sent them off. These then, sent by the Holy Spirit, went down to the port of Seleucia and from there sailed to Cyprus. Upon their arrival in Salamis they proclaimed the word of God in the Jewish synagogue; John was with them as an assistant.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr, and St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, Priest (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard again, in continuation of the last Sunday, which was Good Shepherd and Vocation Sunday, that the Lord is our Shepherd, and His sheep, that is all of us, are coming back to Him in huge numbers, right then, and even right now. The works of the Church in evangelising the world since the time of the Apostles had not ceased, and still continues at a great pace.

In the first reading itself from the Acts of the Apostles, we heard how the Church was established in the region of Antioch and in many other areas of the Eastern Mediterranean, in places where people from various backgrounds lived. There were Greeks, Egyptians, Syrians, Persians, the Jews themselves, Samaritans, and also there were Romans.

People from different origins, different backgrounds, cultures and upbringing, all came together as one, having heard the Good News and believed, that they were since then known as Christians, or Christianos, in the original Greek language. This means that they have chosen to belong to Christ, which comes from the Greek word meaning the Messiah or the Saviour.

This has a great significance, in that a people who once lived in the darkness, in the world, had chosen to take the initiative to be saved from that darkness, and enter into the light through Christ, their Saviour and our Saviour too. We all have been taken out from the world, chosen and separated by God to be His sheep, and with Him as our Shepherd and Leader.

And because of that, we should no longer follow the ways of the world, but the way of our Lord, for we have been made one flock, under the guidance of one Shepherd. There is no more division and disunity, but now everyone who believes in Christ are made into one people, all walking the same path towards our salvation. And this is what we are doing now, under the guidance of the shepherds which God had appointed for us, our priests.

Today we honour the memory of two shepherds, each of whom led the people of God in their own unique way, but ultimately with the aim to lead them to salvation. St. Peter Chanel, a martyr of the faith, a French priest who went to the region of Oceania to preach the Faith and the Good News there. Despite the difficulties and challenges, he continued to persevere through the difficulties, continuing to preach the Faith to the people of God.

When the people, including even the son of the king desired baptism after having been taught the Faith by St. Peter Chanel, the king sent someone to kill him, and thus, St. Peter Chanel was martyred in the cause of the faith. But his hard works earned for the Lord a whole nation of believers. The whole nation who once persecuted St. Peter Chanel has been made whole by his martyrdom.

Meanwhile, St. Louis Marie de Montfort was a well known French priest, whose faith to the Lord and devotion to Him was very renowned throughout the land. St. Louis Marie de Montfort was also renowned for his pious Marian devotions, the dedications and prayers he led for the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, Mary, the ever Blessed Virgin.

He preached in many places and converted many people to the cause of the faith. He led them from the darkness of this world into the light. Through his hard and painstaking work, he had brought so many into salvation in Christ. That is why, today we glorify him as one of the glorious saints, and together with St. Peter Chanel, in their different ministries, they had brought the people of God closer to their Lord and Master.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, inspired by the examples of these two faithful servants of God, then we too should also endeavour to bring many souls to salvation. How do we do so? It is by practicing our faith with real action and devotion that we may bring about the conversion of many. If we are true disciples of Christ through our actions, then people will flock to us and listen to our preaching and believe in them.

May Almighty God be with us all, and may He bring all of His scattered sheep from all over the world, from all nations back, that there may be one flock, one people, with one Shepherd, our Lord Jesus Christ, our Lord and Master. Amen.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015 : 4th Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr, and St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, Priest (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)

John 10 : 22-30

At that time, the time came for the feast of the Dedication. It was winter, and Jesus walked back and forth in the portico of Solomon. The Jews then gathered around Him and said to Him, “How long will You keep us in doubt? If You are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

Jesus answered, “I have already told you, but you do not believe. The works I do in My Father’s Name proclaim who I am, but you do not believe because, as I said, you are not My sheep. My sheep hear My voice and I know them; they follow Me and I give them eternal life. They shall never perish, and no one will ever steal them from Me.”

“What the Father has given Me is above everything else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are One.”